Three centuries of Port from Ramos Pinto

This tasting, held in the splendid dining room at Christie’s King Street, St James’s, is the prelude to an extensive sale of old wines from Ramos Pinto’s own cellars to be held in December 2017. Ramos Pinto were founded in 1880 and, for many years, focused their efforts on the Brazilian market with advertising that was famously louche for its day. The company now belongs to Louis Roederer but retains a strong family tradition in with Ana Ramos Pinto Rosas responsible for the wine making and Jorge Ramos Pinto Rosas taking charge following the retirement of João Nicolau de Almeida in 2015.  The company owns four quintas totaling 250 ha of which Quinta do Bom Retiro in the Rio Torto and Quinta de Ervamoira in the Douro Superior are the mainstay for vintage Port. In the late 1970s Ramos Pinto (alongside Ferreira) took a lead in the block planting of individual grape varieties. Their experiments resulted in the ‘top cinco’ or top five grape varieties (Touriga Nacional. Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão) that were subsequently widely planted under the World Bank Scheme over the next decade. Ramos currently produces 1.2 million bottles of Port and 800,000 bottles of Douro wine, both red and white. They describe their Ports as drier and more demure in style than many – ‘we are not looking to produce fruit bombs’ says Ana Rosas.  

Ramos Pinto 2011 (from a magnum) ****

From a relatively cool, dry growing season that produced some outstanding wines: a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga  Franca and Tinta Barroca, 62% from Quinta da Ervamoira and 38% from Quinta do Bom Retiro. Deep, youthful crimson hue; closed with underlying vinosity, tight knit cherry fruit with a touch of floral perfume emerging; plum jam fruit backed by solid, spicy tannins leading to a big finish. Still quite sullen and closed in on itself – needs another 15 years in bottle before broaching in my opinion.  17.5 

Ramos Pinto 1994  (from a magnum) ****

A watershed year for vintage Port, this comes mainly from the Douro Superior (Ervamoira), a blend based on Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca. Maturing but still youthful purple colour; open on the nose, fragrant summer fruitm, floral too; lovely fleshy fruit, typical of the vintage backed by firm peppery tannins and a big, firm peppery fruit compote finish. On the dry side with 85g/l residual sugar.  17    

Ramos Pinto Late Bottled Vintage 1992 (from a magnum) ****

A traditional LBV, bottled without any fining or filtration. (Like many shippers, Ramos Pinto declared 1991 in preference to 1992).  Still youthful with a mid-deep colour and no sign of any browning on the rim; plummy fruit with spirit showing through and a touch of heady esteva (gum cistus) on the nose; soft, suave and silky, milk chocolate intensity backed by peppery tannins and the chocoloate returns on the finish. Standing up well at after 25 years. A very good LBV. 17.5   

Ramos Pinto 1983 (from a magnum) ***/****

This was the first so called ‘modern’ vintage Port made from separate varietal plots with the backbone coming from some old vines.  (Ramos Pinto, Cockburn and Ferreira pioneered varietal planting in the 1970s).  Good mid-deep garnet colour; not very expressive on the nose, jammy fruit compote character without much definition; soft, sweet creamy-plummy fruit backed by firm, structured tannins, long and firm but in the lean side (as are many 1983s) but still very fresh with lovely acidity tailing off through the finish.   16.5 

Ramos Pinto 1982 ****

Made with more Tinta Barroca the 1983, so surprisingly slightly deeper but more mature in appearance; lovely open dark milk chocolate character, showing better on the nose than the ’83; seemingly very rich, sweet and creamy in style and texture, soft initially but with some solid, ripe tannins rising in the mouth. This must be one of the best 1982s that I have tasted with dark chocolate intensity on the finish. Rich and sweet in style for Ramos Pinto. 3.83 Baumé. In the context of 1982: 18     

Ramos Pinto 1934 ****

Effectively a single quinta wine from Quinta do Bom Retiro, this was bottled nearly three years after the vintage (there was no control on bottling dates in those days). Now pale tawny in hue with glorious playfully lifted aromas, floral with a touch of tropical banana character; seemingly quite sweet in style (although only 2.8 Baumé), silky texture with just a vestige of spicy tannin remaining, orange peel on the finish, fresh and still very much alive. 18

Ramos Pinto 1931 ***

From an outstanding year, declared outright by very few shippers due to the prevailing global economic slump: pale orange-amber hue; slightly corked (?) on the nose, cigar box character but a bit wild and funky; lovely savoury-toasty flavours, very unusual, more tawny than vintage in character still sweet and  spicy with quite a full finish. Perhaps not the best example of this wine. 15  

Ramos Pinto Dry White 1884 ****/*****

A wine from the Baixo Corgo, probably Quinta do Souto which belonged to Adriano Ramos Pinto’s father. Made in a deliberately sweet style (4 degrees Baumé), much appreciated by the ladies of the day and bottled 11 years after the vintage. Deep amber / mahogany, looks like an old madeira; similarly high-toned and pungent like a madeira but with more unctuousness, tropical pineapple aromas; beautifully rich with wonderful texture, dried apricot and muscat, rich with a touch of black pepper on the finish and acidity keeping the wine fresh and alive. A very beautiful wine but how to mark? 18.5    

Scoring

19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty